Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blue Skies and Green Grass

It's been unusually nice here the last couple of weeks.  Well, actually, what happens is three or four days of nice weather, then back down to the 50's, then a few more days in the 70's, and so on.  

So, you know what nice weather means, don't you?  It means GET THOSE KIDS OUTSIDE!!!!

Do school work outside.

Curl up with a book outside.

Play a game of tag outside.

Toss a ball around outside. 

Go for a neighborhood walk outside.

Just get out in the fresh air, already!

Charlotte Mason had plenty to say about the importance of fresh air for children (and it's not bad for adults, either).  When talking about the importance of adequate blood flow to the brain for maximum learning, she says this about air: 

The quality of the blood depends almost as much on the air we breathe as on the food we eat; in the course of every two or three minutes, all the blood in the body passes through the endless ramifications of the lungs, for no other purpose than that, during the instant of its passage, it should be acted upon by the oxygen contained in the air which is drawn into the lungs in the act of breathing. But what can happen to the blood in the course of an exposure of so short duration? Just this- the whole character, the very colour, of the blood is changed: it enters the lungs spoiled, no longer capable of sustaining life; it leaves them, a pure vital fluid. Now, observe, the blood is only fully oxygenated when the air contains its full proportion of oxygen, and every breathing and burning object withdraws some oxygen from the atmosphere. Hence the importance of giving the children daily airings, and abundant exercise of limb and lung in unvitiated, unimpoverished air.

She goes on to talk about the stagnant air that builds up inside houses or other buildings, and the importance of both getting the children outside for fresh air and of opening up the windows to let fresh air circulate through and replace the old air inside the home.

She goes on to talk about the importance of sunshine - yes, sunshine!  These days we all know the benefits of vitamin D produced by exposure to sunlight, but back in Miss Mason's day, she knew just as well how beneficial sunlight was!

But it is not only air, and pure air, the children must have if their blood is to be of the 'finest quality,' as the advertisements have it. Quite healthy blood is exceedingly rich in minute, red disc-like bodies, known as red corpuscles, which in favourable circumstances are produced freely in the blood itself. Now, it is observed that people who live much in the sunshine are of a ruddy countenance––that is, a
a great many of these red corpuscles are present in their blood; while the poor souls who live in cellars and sunless alleys have skins the colour of whity-brown paper. Therefore, it is concluded that light and sunshine are favourable to the production of red corpuscles in the blood; and, therefore––to this next 'therefore' is but a step for the mother––the children's rooms should be on the sunny side of the house, with a south aspect if possible. Indeed, the whole house should be kept light and bright for their sakes; trees and outbuildings that obstruct the sunshine and make the children's rooms dull should be removed without hesitation.

Now, if you come to our house you will find that our children's rooms are indeed on the south end of the house.  Indeed, we open up all the blinds and curtains every single day.  And if the temperature is anywhere between about 65 and 80 degrees, we open up all the windows (well, all the ones with screens on them!) as well.

Fresh air and sunshine - what a novel idea for children!

Andrew enjoys the sunshine while Jake reads a book in the grass

This morning, Jake and Becca were out the door into the backyard with their schoolbooks before I could even say, "Time for school."  Out into the sunshine they went, spread out a blanket, and got busy.  I took Andrew out as well and he had a fine time playing.  He loves being outside.  Last autumn he was too small to enjoy it, and of course over the winter he was inside most of the time, but spring is making him very happy!

The other day he was out, ripping up clover blossoms and chewing on them, and all I could think was, "My mother would have a fit if she could see this!"  But I let him chew on them anyway.

is there anything cuter than baby feet on green grass on a sunny day?

A couple of evenings in the past week have found Tony playing catch in the backyard with Jake while Andrew looks on and the other kids spin in circles til they fall down.  Katy took an almost two hour walk yesterday and came back with a handful of fallen magnolia petals that we put on display in a bowl of water on the dining table.  She loves to take off on her bike and roam the  neighborhood for hours.  The middle kids like to play in the yard with each other, their cousin, or the neighborhood kids.

We tried to make it a point to get our kids out often from the very youngest ages, and it has obviously paid off, because they love to head out when the weather is nice.  

They don't know that by running around outside, they're making their brains better at learning. 

Ah, what they don't know can't hurt them!

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